Please give a warm Coffee Pot welcome to Historical Romance author, Sarah Dahl. Sarah is going to share the inspiration behind her fabulous story collection…
The Current: A Battle of Seduction
(A Tales of Freya short story)
The "Tales of Freya" is a collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking age –
and it opens with "The Current – A Battle of Seduction"!
Viking warrior Aldaith meets his real match only after the battle:
Marked from the latest battle, Aldaith wants to recover by a stream. But instead of finding solitude, he stumbles on the fearless shield maiden Nyssa. The fierce beauty invites Aldaith into the water to engage in a very different kind of battle -- one for which his training leaves him unprepared.
"Sarah Dahl brings a crisp, contemporary voice to an ages-old world of battle, bloodshed and primal indulgences. Her refreshing style not only draws the reader back into ancient times; it brings the characters to us, allowing us to meet in the middle for a vibrant and accessible experience.
From two ravaged warriors reaping the spoils of war to the sensuality of a medieval menage, Ms. Dahl has a way of making scars sexy and luring out the vulnerability in the invulnerable."
J.D. Lexx, author of The Crimson Confessions
"With her unique writing style and in-depth knowledge of this bygone era, she brings the world of clashing swords, dashing warriors, and strong, independent shield maidens to life.
Brutality turns into sensuality in an instant, leaving the reader satisfied, yet craving more. Her writing is addictive, and every story in this brand new and exciting series is sure to thrill and delight."
Elaine Coetzee, author of Runo's Curse
"A clever concept, focusing not on the chieftains and knights, but the very people battling to love and survive. Very naughty in concept, steam and steel meet in harmony in the imagination."
Chris Cherry, author of the Bestselling Love and War novels
I've always been drawn "north". To the harsher climates and rougher landscapes. I'd rather holiday on the stormy, grey Faroer islands than some Mediterranean beach. Looking back, I've always spent my time travelling to where the Vikings went. From Norway to Ireland and Brittany, from Denmark to England and Scotland. Always favouring the rough Atlantic coast over some mild, but boring seascape. These countries' Celtic and Viking heritage fascinates me. Give me timeless, awe-inspiring forces of nature, and I'm happy.
When studying English linguistics and Geography, I did my final exams about glaciers and natural disasters. Again preferring the stark landscapes of fjords, forests and snowcapped mountain peaks to something sweeter, more harmless.
Maybe that's because I myself wouldn't be described as sweet, exactly. I'm a shield maiden at heart, and in my writing combine the two: strong, independent women in equally challenging landscapes and situations.
The more I immersed myself in the history and culture of the ancient Scandinavians, the more I was fascinated. Their early medieval societies were multifaceted and rich in culture. Women had a say in most aspects. They ruled the house. They could become healers or even warriors. They travelled with their men to settle in new lands. And "the" Vikings weren't filthy, ruthless plunderers. They were well-groomed farmers become part-time warriors, or young men seeking honour in battle and by raids. They wouldn't go out to seek rape and harming people for no reason, for that wasn’t honourable and didn’t add to their reputation at home.
Of course, things became more complex with Christianity slowly replacing the ancient mythology around the gods Odin and Thor. I prefer my stories to be set in the earlier Viking age, around 850-950, when things were still a little less politically and religiously complicated. The "raw" era fascinates me most, because: I write about the more normal people, the simpler lives. I zoom in on the more common encounters, and what these people yearn for: farmers, monks, housewives, the average warrior. I’m interested in the smaller worlds. Show average people in slightly unusual situations, which in my sensual works often turn into something sensual, steamy even. I’m interested in this often overlooked side of human lives: people's passions and dreams, the force of seduction, this game between man and woman.
So for my writing I have to soak up everything there is about my chosen era, tirelessly. I read all the books – non-fiction preferably – and try to follow new discoveries in archaeology and linguistics, for example. In a museum or on a site, I read the hard, historical facts, and then imagine what it "must have been like" for someone living in the described circumstances. One striking example is that I read that Vikings did expose their unwanted children to nature to let them die. There's an abundance of possible stories behind such a find. Out of this snippet from a text in the Viking museum at Hedeby became the flash fiction "Maelstrom" you can read for free on my website.
The German Haithabu/Hedeby Viking town and museum is my favourite place to go and immerse myself into Viking spirit, and to conjure up new story ideas (or solve older ones). Situated at the estuary of the Slien, the ages-old site is still in the original place, still embraced by the protective earthen mound's half-circle. I go there at least once a year, and their museum accompanying the site of the town is excellent. The general tranquility and relative remoteness sparks my creativity. Some of the Viking townhouses have been restored and make up a tiny settlement now, where once over 1,000 people from all over the world lived together. Standing high on the mound, face in the harsh winds and looking at the flat below, across the re-erected pier and the grey water, it's hard to imagine the bustling and what it really must have been like: living as a Viking man or woman in such an exceptional place. There were almost no towns then. Hedeby was unusual and an ongoing experiment of clashing cultures and beliefs.
And today, the mound is still there, some of the houses revived, the landscape and sea-level fairly similar. When I arrive at the site, I steer clear of all people and wander down the wobbly plank paths alone, to duck into dark and smoky huts, or look out across the water. Just soaking up atmosphere, I walk out onto the rough pier and imagine a long row of ships of all sizes. Stalls and shouting people. The noise and stink that has long gone. With a 180-degree turn, I take in the entire landscape that must have looked similar then, although some tree species changed and agriculture – the death of Viking sites all over Scandinavia – changed some aspects forever.
Then I always take a walk: up the mound, walking from one end to the other following that perfect half-circle, looking down on what is left and recreated of the town and harbour. I look down to the outer side, where the fields must have been, where people felled trees, and let their cattle graze. I can walk down from the mound and disappear in the light forest, circle the reedy, peaceful Haddebyer Noor, and find two runestones along the way. They, too, tell stories – and authentic ones. I can touch their rough surface and see the red runic writing, and imagine the people they talk about, and the people who erected them to commemorate Sygtrygg and Eirik.
Hedeby IS stories. About people of all professions and backgrounds. They can be found in a hanging shelf, a smoke-blackened roof, under sheepskins or in the bobbing of an empty rowing boat.
The hour-long drive home always sets my mind alight: I slowly piece together what I read and experienced; I solve story problems that at home drove me crazy, and I create new encounters. I frequently pull the car over to take notes or just close my eyes and think. When I'm home, I'm always overflowing with creativity.
Hedeby is my place of inspiration, and I'll go back for as long as it talks to me like that.
Links for Purchase
About the author
Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. Her author page is: sarah-dahl.com
The Current – A Battle of Seduction
Publication date: April 24, 2017
Published by: Pronoun
Series: Tales of Freya
Genre: Historical fiction